Thursday, October 5, 2017
YOU NEVER KNOW
“You never know”. How many times have I used that cliché? How many times have you? Still the question fits perfectly with our state of mind when we are shocked. “What happened in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas” is another cliché. Except that the murder of dozens of innocents and the injuries of hundreds more should not have happened in Las Vegas or anywhere else.
Hard on the heels of that insanity came the news that my longtime associate, Peter Giuliano, died unexpectedly from a heart attack. Peter and I had not seen each other for years, but he was never far from my mind. He was successful, a leader, with decades of promise left in his outstanding career. But you never know.
30 or 40 years ago I received a phone call from Dr. Virginia Miles, the highly respected pioneer in breaking the glass ceiling for women in advertising. Nobody in their right mind would fail to take a call from Virginia. And I didn't. She told me about a neighbor, a young man she said had extraordinary talent, but had not found the right niche in his professional life. Would I interview him and see if he would be right for our business of coaching executives for public speaking, leading stockholder meetings and the whole range of communications challenges that face those in the leadership suite. Done and done.
Peter was trained for the stage. His hard working mother sacrificed everything to insure he was given the best of acting classes, voice lessons, every aspect of preparation for the footlights. I thought at the time, and still do, that he was a youngish John Barrymore. Some aspects of this flair had to be tempered in our business where we were more “coach” than “performer”. His other gifts were extraordinarily well suited for client companies just as they were. Peter had an uncanny ability to “read” his audiences, small or large. Only then would he move into racing gear. I think of one assignment in a Philadelphia hotel ballroom where he spoke to 1200 elevator repairmen. He received a standing ovation! We sent him to Sweden to work with an engineering firm. He turned that small bit of business into a giant money maker.
And that magnificent singing voice! When Joan and I were married, I asked him to sing “Danny Boy” at our reception. It wasn't just the bride and groom crying that day.
While it is quite true that we never know when tragedy will come into our lives, there are other times when we will know it full well. Peter, with his larger than life personality, was first and foremost a loving father to his daughter, his sons and the four lights of his life grandchildren. Now their unspeakable loss will eventually settle in side by side with the certain knowledge that Peter loved each of them beyond words.
That they will ever know.